Lee's Summit West High School's Elf the Musical Selected Reviews
Excelsior Springs High School
Submitted for publication to KC Star Online
SMILES ALL AROUND
Gentle Christmas classics echo throughout the room and powdery snow falls from above. It's Christmastime in November. There is a special magic that fills the air. The talented students at Lee Summit West are ushering in the spirit of the holiday season with their production of Elf: The Musical.
Elf: The Musical is based on the 2003 comedy of the same name. The eponymous elf, named Buddy, feels out of place in the North Pole. When he discovers that he is really a human, he travels to New York City to meet his biological father. Along the way, he improves the lives of everyone he meets by spreading the joy and the spirit of Christmas.
In this production, the role of Buddy is played by Cooper Carr. Carr commands the stage with his energetic performance and bright singing voice. There is never a dull moment when he's on stage. Playing Buddy's love interest, Jovie is Gracie Heath. Heath showcases her talents as an actress by clearly expressing the progression of her character and backing it up with powerful vocals. Together, Carr and Heath portray a couple with fantastic chemistry whose hearts and voices blend beautifully together.
The magic of the show is held together by the entire cast. In every scene, every character is doing something, even if they are not the focus of the scene. The populous city setting is made genuine by the realistic interactions of every actor in the background. However, in this impressively expressive cast, Kyler Gher, in the role of Buddy's brother Michael Hobbs, stands out as being especially engaging. From preteen angst to childlike wonder, Gher demonstrates an extraordinary range of acting ability.
The enchanting environment is maintained by those who have put in work behind the scenes. Set Designers, Gracie Heath and Sean Sinow, paint an elegant picture of the world this story takes place in with picturesque backdrops of New York City and the buildings within it. One particular set piece stands out: an iceberg that seems to drift away all on its own. Along with this, the elven inhabitants of the North Pole are brought to life by the clever costumes of Pacey Thompson. The North Pole Elf costumes are wonderfully color-filled and allow regular humans to appear the size of elves!
The students of Lee's Summit West have clearly put monumental effort into this production and it pays off. With an extraordinary cast and engaging sets and costumes, ELF: THE MUSICAL casts a wonderful spell that lasts until the final curtain falls, even when the sound seems muted and there are pregnant pauses in between scenes. For those waiting with bated breath for the magic of the Christmas season, the wait is over.
Excelsior Springs High School
Submitted for publication to The Pitch
THE STORY OF BUDDY
As the lights dim and the curtains open, all eyes begin to set focus to the big man in the red suit. Santa Claus tells the joyous story in his beautiful home, filled with loads of decorations setting the tone for the entire show. With the help of his holly jolly Christmas elves, Lee's Summit West presents the amazing, Elf The Musical.
Elf The Musical, created by Thomas Meehan, Bob Martin, Mathew Skylar, and Chad Beguelin originated from the 2003 film, "Elf". The story begins with an orphan child named Buddy Hobbs who was accidentally brought to the North Pole as an infant. After several years of Buddy thinking he was an elf, he finally finds out the truth, that his real family lives in New York City. Buddy leaves in a hurry on the search for his father Walter Hobbes and comes to find out some upsetting news. Buddy, however, will do whatever it takes to keep the spirit of Christmas alive.
Cooper Carr playing the famous Buddy the Elf, does a spectacular job at portraying his character. Carr is an extremely talented young man who definitely fits the role. With his hyperactive energy and marvelous tenor voice, we can truly see the real Buddy come alive. Carr shows off his many talents by not just singing and acting, but by dancing during his comedic scenes as well. His excited emotions and big heart help pull everything together in this wonderful production.
Everyone in the show does an amazing job at keeping the energy up and staying in the scene, aside from spots here and there, but there are a few cast members who never have a dull moment on stage. Jovie, played by Gracie Heath, Michael Hobbs by Kyler Gher and Emily Hobbs by Mia Sparks always have a huge smile on their face and do an incredible job vocally as well. Heath playing Jovie, is at first known as a humbug, but finally gets to reveal her true character in the lovely "A Christmas Song". This song alone shows Heath's major character development and how she was changed for the better.
With good voices comes good music to follow. The "Elf The Musical Orchestra" is always playing marvelous music to match every scene. Their cool jazz, and amazing sense of musicality is tremendous, and never fails. Of course we can not forget about costumes, and the set.
Lacey Thompson's costume designs are divine. Each costume fits every person on stage not just in size, but in personality too. With the help of Sean Sinow and Gracie Heath on the set, it brings the entire show together. Even though there are not a ton of set pieces, the intricate backdrops help bring out each scenes' authenticity, creating a beautiful picture.
Although there are a few microphone mishaps, and prolonged scene changes here and there, the performers are always on point and never lose the attention of the audience. The chemistry of each and every human on stage is undeniable and contributes greatly to making this show come out on top.
Lee's Summit West's ELF THE MUSICAL is a spectator show you do not want to miss. So, bring your kids, your parents, and your grandparents to see the world's greatest Christmas story brought to life. You will not regret it.
Harrisonville High School
Submitted for publication to Lee's Summit Tribune
The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear! Lee's Summit West makes sure this is the case during their wonderfully cheerful performance. With a beautiful mix of harmonies and strong soloists, Elf: The Musical takes you on a musical journey through New York City and truly pulls the audience into the scenes laid out in front of them.
When a man raised as an elf learns the truth about his birth parents, he decides he's going to find them no matter the cost. He is forced to venture through oceans, forests, and the scariest part of all, the streets of New York City. Buddy, played by Cooper Carr, quickly learns of the lack of Christmas spirit throughout the gloomy city and decides he's going to liven things up with some sparklejollytwinklejingley!
Carr gives a stunning and captivating performance as Buddy. His energy is always as high as it can be and he never once breaks character. His wonderfully flamboyant personality really drives his character home. His lovely counterpart Jovie, played by Gracie Heath, enthralls the audience with her wide range of vocals and sassy attitudes. Carr and Heath have excellent chemistry, which further establishes their relationship on the stage.
Kyler Gher gives an outstanding performance as Michael Hobbs. Her vocals are out of this world and her range is extremely impressive for a high school singer. She is able to nail every high note her songs throw at her while still maintaining her style and character. Another star of this show is Emily Hobbs, played by Mia Sparks. She is able to portray such great emotion into her character, especially with her family. During "I'll Believe In You", the duo are able to pull off complex harmonies while still holding their own parts. The two are remarkably balanced throughout the song and are able to paint a complex picture of a struggling family and a son's need for his father's love. The performance is sure to pull on the heartstrings of even the coldest people.
There were multiple technical aspects in this show that were delightful and almost hard to believe. During "A Christmas Song Reprise", the crew is able to pull off an eye-catching scene of falling snow. The "snow" catches the light as it falls and is truly beautiful to watch as the cast sings about Christmas one last time. The pit orchestra was also ridiculously talented. It is hard to believe that the jolly ambiance is produced by highschool students and not a professional recording.
A growth opportunity for this production would be the level of emotion for the minor characters. There were times when everyone would be dancing and smiling, while people in the background stood stagnant; styling blank expressions. Besides the need for some actors to have more dynamic expressions, the show was flawless.
The performance as a whole was truly a delight to watch. The show serves as a perfect way to bring on the jolly season and put anyone in a festive mood. Lee's Summit West's production of Elf: The Musical is well worth the drive, the cost of admission, and virtually anything else keeping one from experiencing the joy that is this performance.
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